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The Family-Oriented Date: Are They Really Keepers?


There seems to be this great debate about dating someone who’s family-oriented and someone who’s not. Let’s settle this once and for all.

I’ll be the first one to tell you right now that I do not fit the general understanding of being family-oriented. My parents are separated. We don’t have weekly family dinners. We don’t talk on the phone every day. We don’t share the same interests. We don’t go to annual reunions, because there are none. My family history is the antithesis of what the general public believes is family-oriented.

The actual definition is about being adaptable to family, but for the purpose of this article, I’ll use “family-oriented” to discuss people who are close to their families. From a distance, this may seem black and white. But if you look closer, you’ll see that there’s usually a gray area, and maybe even a bit of color.

Here’s the real score on family-oriented people…

…and it won’t be about baseless assumptions that could turn the tide for people who don’t share the same ideals or background.

#1 Being family-oriented is not a cut and dry definition. Most people assume that people who are close to their families are the only ones who are family-oriented. Being family-oriented is defined as being aimed at, adapted to, suitable for families, or family-friendly. It does not mean that one has to have a deep and meaningful relationship with their family. It means that these people are open to the idea of family, with no definite context.

#2 Family-oriented people are still subject to the same problems as those who are not. Although research suggests that children who did not grow up with a complete family are at a higher risk for developing negative attitudes and behavior, family-oriented people can end up having the same predisposition.

Being raised in a close-knit family does not negate the fact that their upbringing may be less than satisfactory. Add to that the unpredictable circumstances in their social activities and other environmental factors, and you have a whole slew of other factors that can determine someone’s personality. [Read: Dating expectations: Type A vs. Type B personalities]

#3 The advantages of dating someone who is family-oriented are based on how their family is, in general. Just because someone is close with their family does not mean that they are automatically the best candidate for dating. There’s a possibility that they grew up with a family that has instilled values and attitudes that don’t line up with yours. If that’s the case, then there may be more significant deal-breakers on horizon.

#4 Their relationship traits are based on how their environment has shaped them as well. Not all family-oriented people are gentlemen and demure ladies. You have to consider the fact that they may not have been raised that way. If their family turned out to be a bit liberal or filled with aggressive individuals, you really can’t expect a sweet and complacent partner.

#5 Family-oriented people are more likely to be independent. Most assume that family-oriented people rely a lot on their families. But a study on the independence on 20-somethings begs to differ. According to the results, family-oriented children were actually more independent, even if they continued to keep close contact with their parents. [Read: How to be independent even if you’re in a relationship]

And what about non-family-oriented people?

#1 Divorced parents lead to low trust in their children. This makes it difficult for non-family-oriented children to have healthy romantic relationships when they start dating. They fear that they will be rejected, and this manifests in different negative attitudes like reluctance to commit, misinterpreting their partners’ motives, and resorting to brash assumptions. [Read: How to get over trust issues in your relationship]

#2 Hesitancy towards marriage so as to have a different approach as their parents did. Most people who aren’t close to their families will opt to avoid the same situation in their future relationships. This is mostly attributed to the rejection they felt from their parents.

They will try their best to avoid getting into the same circumstances themselves, but often, people will end up avoiding relationships altogether without even realizing why. [Read: 12 subtle signs of a loveless, unhappy marriage]

#3 Both family-oriented and non-family-oriented people can have either healthy or dysfunctional families. The fact that a person is brought up in a family-oriented environment is not a promise of a healthy and thriving future relationship. The same goes for children who grew up with a distant relationship to their family. Basically, no matter what type of family you grew up in, you’re never assured of a perfect picture for your future relationship.

#4 They seek intimacy outside of their families. Non-family-oriented people may have lacked intimacy within their familial relationships, which means that they are more likely to subconsciously look for it elsewhere. This is where a new relationship can prove to be very helpful.

Most of the time, they’re actually looking for a relationship that can make them feel more than what they did from their own families. [Read: How to increase intimacy in your relationship]

#5 They are more likely to seek help or develop coping strategies to remold themselves into better people. Because of the general belief that non-family-oriented people are more prone to behavioral problems and conflicting emotions, they are more likely to identify the cause of their negative behaviors and resolve them with the help of trained professionals. Social workers, teachers, and guidance counselors are also alerted to issues within family units in their areas. This gives them the power to advise families and ask for assistance in providing a better environment for children through counseling and social assimilation.

So, what’s the best choice?

For me, it’s either or neither. That depends on what you can handle. Don’t make your judgment based on a person’s family background. Make your decision based on who they are now. Even if they come from a good family, you always need to look deeper. They might be hiding their pain, and you could be ignoring it because you simply assumed they were brought up in a safe and loving environment.

For people who are not family-oriented, you can always ask them about how they felt while they were growing up. If they refuse to share anything, then your problem lies in your communication, not their upbringing. Who knows? Your partner may have even gotten the help they needed to cope with their family issues. [Read: 10 things you can do that’ll bring your soulmate to you]

Family-oriented or not, we all have a right to fall in love with whomever we choose. I refuse to let a few pop culture articles deter me from that. I hope that most of you who feel rejected and uneasy because of your family background can look past what society thinks and just do your own thing.

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Danielle Anne
Danielle Anne
Those who can’t do, teach. I can neither do nor teach as well as others, but I can try. Aside from being a writer, I am also a physical therapist. My dream is...
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